Editor’s note: The following is the 1941 Christmas message from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Fellow workers for freedom:
There are many men and women in America – sincere and faithful men and women – who are asking themselves this Christmas:
How can we light our trees? How can we give our gifts?
How can we meet and worship with love and with uplifted spirit and heart in a world at war, a world of fighting and suffering and death?
How can we pause, even for a day, even for Christmas Day, in our urgent labor of arming a decent humanity against the enemies which beset it?
How can we put the world aside, as men and women put the world aside in peaceful years, to rejoice in the birth of Christ?
These are natural – inevitable – questions in every part of the world which is resisting the evil thing.
And even as we ask these questions, we know the answer. There is another preparation demanded of this Nation beyond and beside the preparation of weapons and materials of war. There is demanded also of us the preparation of our hearts; the arming of our hearts. And when we make ready our hearts for the labor and the suffering and the ultimate victory which lie ahead, then we observe Christmas Day – with all of its memories and all of its meanings – as we should.
Looking into the days to come, I have set aside a day of prayer, and in that Proclamation I have said:
“The year 1941 has brought upon our Nation a war of aggression by powers dominated by arrogant rulers whose selfish purpose is to destroy free institutions. They would thereby take from the freedom-loving peoples of the earth the hard-won liberties gained over many centuries.
“The new year of 1942 calls for the courage and the resolution of old and young to help to win a world struggle in order that we may preserve all we hold dear.
“We are confident in our devotion to country, in our love of freedom, in our inheritance of courage. But our strength, as the strength of all men everywhere, is of greater avail as God upholds us.
“Therefore, I … do hereby appoint the first day of the year 1942 as a day of prayer, of asking forgiveness for our shortcomings of the past, of consecration to the tasks of the present, of asking God’s help in days to come.
“We need His guidance that this people may be humble in spirit but strong in the conviction of the right; steadfast to endure sacrifice, and brave to achieve a victory of liberty and peace.”
Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies – more than any other day or any other symbol.
Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God’s care for us and all men everywhere.
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